Nokia cautious about launching Windows RT tablet
Finnish firm said to have designed a product but wants to see how Surface and other devices do before acting
Published: 21 December, 2012
Fresh reports have surfaced that Nokia is working on a Windows RT tablet for launch in the first half of next year.
The Finnish firm certainly needs to diversify into new form factors to avoid becoming permanently reliant on a handset market which is commoditizing, and to gain some of the public attention that tends to buzz around tablets and convertibles.
However, it has to be even more careful than most vendors to avoid a launch flop, so it will need to differentiate its offering and get its launch timing and approach right. The features with which it is really starting to make its Lumia smartphones stand apart include location services, which could be harnessed effectively for a larger screened device, and imaging, which have less obvious relevance. However, Nokia is stuck with a reasonably vanilla user experience for WP8 - and Windows RT in future - because of Microsoft's restrictions, so the success of a tablet will partly depend on whether the consumer base is enthusiastic for the new operating system at all.
Nokia is reported to have been discouraged from launching too early by lukewarm early sales of other vendors' RT devices- especially as it wants to focus holiday season resources and public attention on Lumia, and on WP8, where it has a better chance of standing out from the crowd than in tablets (its previous efforts in the hybrid PC/handset space have not been great successes - remember the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet of 2005, and the Booklet 3G of 2009?).
According to Taiwan's Digitimes, Nokia also postponed its tablet plans in order not to clash with Microsoft's own Surface launch. "Nokia originally planned to develop a 10-inch Windows RT tablet equipped with Qualcomm's S4 processor in first quarter 2012, with Compal to undertake ODM production and initial shipments of 200,000 units to test the market," the sources indicated.
CEO Stephen Elop certainly recognizes the need for swift action to take advantage of a possibly brief window when carriers urgently want a third OS to counterweight Android and iOS, but when HTML5 is not mature enough to fill the role. He said in a recent interview with CNet: "There's been a marked shift towards this challenger mindset. We have to move with urgency. We have to have empathy and listen to our customers. How do we respond to consumer demand that we haven't done as quickly as before?"